Gone are the days of the ear trumpet and the oversized speakers hung on the backs of the ears that emit feedback every time you hug a loved one. With enhanced understanding of how hearing works deep in the ear, professionals have improved hearing aid technology dramatically in the last five years.
How has hearing aid technology changed?
Digital technology enables hearing aid professionals to tailor each product for their patients’ needs. For example, the hearing aid is programmed to recognize at which pitches a wearer needs greater amplification. Such specialization minimizes headaches induced by feedback. Sensitive microcomputers filter out background noise digitally, cleaning up and clarifying sound before it arrives in the inner ear for translation.
Developing smart technology has revolutionized hearing aids so that they adapt to the environment without any manual adjustment required. Some models also wirelessly connect to tablets, televisions and phones so that wearers don’t have to switch volume settings, making their hearing aids their own personalized headset whenever using these devices.
The Hidden Hearing Aid
In addition to better hearing quality, new hearing aids come with cosmetic and functional improvements. They are much smaller than older models and can be customized to match users’ skin tones, making them more discreet. Extended-wear hearing aids allow users to keep them in for several months, because they’re placed entirely within the ear. Swimmers and watersports enthusiasts also can use waterproof, digital hearing aids.
The Ashland ENT Hearing Center alone offers several different models that treat a range of hearing loss levels and suit different lifestyles and budgets.
Do you need to upgrade your hearing aids?
Just like a car or refrigerator, hearing aids don’t last forever. Most work reliably for about five years. An audiologist will be able to examine whether the device can be fixed or if it’s time to try a more current model. Changes in health also affect which hearing aids help you most. If arthritis has worsened, then manipulating dials or changing batteries can become too cumbersome so that you might need a more user-friendly hearing aid that requires less frequent charging.
A few other signs of a needed upgrade:
- Hearing on the phone has become more difficult
- You hear a buzz, whistle, or feedback while wearing your hearing aids
- Differentiating speech from noise is harder than it used to be
- Your hearing aids use older, analog technology
Because of the array of hearing aid models, different health insurance plans, and financial assistance programs, fear of high costs shouldn’t scare anyone away from treating their hearing loss.
For more information about how to receive financial assistance, call your local hearing aid center, as well as:
- Kiwanis for children’s needs
- Easter Seals
- Foundation for Sight and Sound
- Lions Club International